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Violence against IEC staff escalates during election time

There were nearly 100 incidents of violence against IEC officials over the two registration weekends.

FILE: IEC staff getting ready for voter registration at Fezekile Secondary in Oudtshoorn on 5 March 2016. Picture: Petrus Botha/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and its staff are increasingly becoming a target for violent protests during election time.

The organisation is hosting a seminar in Cape Town on the causes of violent protests across the country.

Recent research shows there were more than 2,800 incidents of "public violence" between 2013 and 2015 nationally.

In her research, ISS crime and justice hub manager Lizette Lancaster identifies nearly 100 incidents of violence against IEC officials over the two registration weekends.

She says there were also instances where tents and stations were badly damaged during the 2014 General Elections.

"We also know that the IEC recognises the fact that they are becoming the target of people's frustrations and therefore they are taking precautions."

IEC Western Cape head Courtney Sampson says staff members have been hesitant about going into some areas because of previous attacks.

The election body has identified hotspots and is working with law enforcement agencies and communities to ensure voting goes smoothly.

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